Seattle, WA –
It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s the kind of relationship every pet guardian cherishes, the kind that makes every day a fond memory.
That’s the way it was for Shae and her Labrador, Sasha. From the moment they met, it was if they were twin souls, an indescribable bond connecting the two of them.
Sasha is an affectionate dog that loved giving Shae kisses and going for long walks.
“Sasha is a lot like me,” Shae said. “She’s strong and sensitive.” Shae had other dogs she loved dearly, but at the center of her life, there was always Sasha, the dog that had a piece of her heart.
At Christmastime, however, Sasha began acting strangely. She no longer wanted to play or give Shae her treasured kisses. She showed little interest in opening Christmas packages or having any fun.
At 7 years of age, Shea knew this behavior was not normal for such a young dog. Sasha would pace in circles and pant. Her energy level dropped so much she resisted going for walks. When Shae would take her to Petco, the usually vocal and energetic dog was completely indifferent to everyone.
Alarmed, she took Sasha to her vet, Dr. Earls, who took x-rays, blood work, and did an ultrasound, but the tests revealed nothing.
There were no tumors, just Sasha’s terrified eyes looking up at Shae. “I could see in her eyes that she was worried,” Shae said tearfully. “It was so hard. I felt so helpless.” The vet could see the change in Sasha, but he too was helpless to understand what was happening to her.
Even when Sasha slept, she groaned with pain. Frantic, Shae changed dog food brands, hoping that would solve the problem but it didn’t. Then Shae got a new job in Seattle, Washington.
She packed up her few belongings and stayed in a hotel, hoping to find an apartment to rent. Sasha’s behavior did not improve. In fact, it worsened. She began running into walls.
At one point, Shae found Sasha huddled between the bathroom commode and the wall, unable to figure out how to get out. “If I held my hand out to her she would duck down and close her eyes, as if there was a huge ball coming toward her.”
The dog that had been her constant companion and her funny Valentine was disappearing before her very eyes, and Shae was frightened that she would never get her old love back again. “It was hard to watch this sharp, intuitive dog that I loved so much change so dramatically,” Shae told us.
Nights became never ending with neither Shae or Sasha getting much sleep. Sasha would start the night sleeping beside Shae on the bed. But at some point, she would lose her sense of boundaries and fall to the floor. Shae would get up and hold her dog, comforting her until she would sleep for about an hour. Again, Sasha would wake, groaning with pain.
Shae’s work situation had also become untenable. Her new boss kept making advances toward her. Although she reported him to Human Resources, no action was taken. He continued to seek Shae out.
Because she continued to rebuff him, she was fired. That meant she could no longer afford a hotel room, while looking for an apartment.
A friend of Shea’s let her stay in a small trailer for two weeks. In the meantime, she contacted her old vet, Dr. Earls, about Sasha’s deteriorating condition. He referred her to Washington State University. Literally, with just the clothes on her back and her vehicle, she packed up her dogs and took Sasha to the University.
When she met Sasha’s oncologist, Dr. Fidel, she told her, “I think whatever is wrong with Sasha is in her head.” But Dr. Fidel felt that a brain tumor was unlikely because Sasha was so young.
Unfortunately, it turned out that Shae was right. “I have some bad news,” Dr. Fidel told her. “Sasha does have a brain tumor, a very large one in the region of her pituitary gland.”
Shae was numb. “The tumor is putting pressure on her brain. That’s why she’s pacing and panting. It’s also why her vision has decreased.” But that wasn’t the worst of it. Because of the location of the tumor, the surgery was delicate and dangerous. Worse, there was no assurance that Dr. Fidel could get all of the tumor because of its location. And, because the anesthesia is so strong, some dogs don’t recover the full function of their bodies.
But without any intervention, Sasha maybe had 2 months to live, at best.
With tears streaming down her face, Shae asked herself one very hard question. “Do I want to put my dog through such an aggressive surgery with the strong possibility I may never really get her back?”
She looked up at the oncologist and said, “I have lived with this dog for 7 years. She has given me the best part that life has to offer.
If you walk out of the OR and look me in the eyes and say,’ she didn’t make it’, I will never forgive myself.” Dr. Fidel understood. “I can’t give you the answers, Shae,” she told her, “but I can tell you that if it were my dog, I would choose a less risky route.”
Dr. Fidel recommended radiation therapy instead. She could control where the radiation was placed with no chance her dog would go blind. Shae chose radiation. With no job, living on dwindling savings, and now living in her car, Shae’s determination never wavered. Her first concern was Sasha.
She asked Dr. Fidel how she could afford treatment. It was then that he gave her a list of non-profits to contact. In the meantime, the hospital allowed Shea to park her car in the hospital lot overnight with her dogs, so that she would have a relatively safe place to sleep.
She rationed food for herself, instead making sure her dogs had the good food they needed to eat.
When we received Shae’s application, we wanted to help her. She was one person battling the world, and no one was there to offer her support. The Mosby Foundation wanted to give her and Sasha a second chance.
Cooper’s Legacy in Settle also reached out to Shae. They provided her with a hotel room for a couple of nights to give her some relief.
“I was so grateful,” Shae said quietly. “I felt like maybe God hadn’t completely forgotten us.”
Sasha would finally get the help she needed. With each trip to Dr. Fidel’s office, it got harder and harder for Sasha. She would jump up and place her paws on Shae’s shoulders, as if to say, don’t leave me, and she didn’t. Shae would walk back as far as she was allowed to go before her precious dog had to leave her.
Even then, Sasha would turn around and look back at Shae, the fear in her eyes. It was then that Shae broke down and sobbed. “I didn’t look like myself because I was crying so much.”
Thankfully, after the third week of treatment, Sasha began to show signs of life.
Her energy returned. She wanted to go for walks, and much to Shea’s delight, the kisses returned.
Shae also received a very good job offer. She was able to move into a house with her fur babies. No more sleeping in cars, at friends’ houses, or in hotel rooms. Life had settled into a predictable rhythm that was absolute music for Shea.
“I am thankful to God for all the help He sent me through The Mosby Foundation and Cooper’s Legacy,” Shea said. The Mosby Foundation is glad we could help! Shae is also grateful for her journey. “It’s made me a stronger person.” And Sasha, her biggest love of all, is enjoying life just as much.
Sasha does go back for her check up soon, but Shae is only expecting good news. With so much hardship behind her, life is good, very, very good.
Shae only has to look into Sasha’s eyes to see the same joy reflected in her own.
An Update on Sasha
Please make sure you let everyone know that Sasha was rechecked with Dr. Fidel and had her CT scans. Victorious with almost nothing left there. Dr. Fidel so amazed of Sasha’s recovery and healing. I knew in my heart I would have great news. My talking out loud, saying: there will be nothing left in there Sasha but your beautiful brain…. It came true. Almost Christmas soon and Sasha and her siblings are going to have a Happy Merry Christmas this year!
We love you Mosby!!!!! You are in my heart!
Sasha sends lots of kisses🐾🐾🐾❤️